When it comes to travelling on a budget, times have changed. In the past, bed and breakfast (B&Bs) hotels were seen as the ‘a cut above’ a backpackers’ hostel. A higher level of luxury. A better experience. Six Degrees, along with hundreds of other great 21st century backpackers’ hostels around the world, would like to challenge this perception.
First, let’s look at the similarities. Well in reality, hostels are themselves ‘B&Bs’ already – after all, you get a bed and you get some breakfast. Another key similarity is the overall experience of staying in a Bed and Breakfast or a hostel is hugely influenced by the hosts themselves. Nobody likes staying anywhere where they feel unwelcome, or treated merely like a source of income for the business. Owners and staff have to be friendly and helpful. Full stop.
One major difference is that at a hostel you’ll usually (not always) have shared bathroom facilities. Many places however, including Six Degrees, offer a choice of shared and en-suite bathrooms. Rooms at hostels are usually simpler, too. You’ll rarely find a TV, or dressing table, or a minibar, or a phone. No lace bed-throws or frilly cushions either.
Do these bedroom extras mean guests will have a better overall experience? We think not. The big, unbeatable benefit of a great hostel is the social side of things. At Six Degrees our principle is that the rooms are designed for sleep. During the day it’s all about the possibility of making new friends, swapping stories, planning trips, getting advice and being entertained. The communal areas, not the rooms, are the heart of a good hostel. And there should be games, activities, tours, and a whole host of other entertainment options to keep guests amused. We’d argue that this is more fun than sitting in B&B room trying to figure out how to make the electric kettle work.
This isn’t to say that rooms should be neglected. Simplicity is fine, but if the hostel is like Six Degrees, rooms are spotlessly clean, air-conditioned, and feature big, comfortable, clean beds. Plump pillows and super-fast free in-room wifi too.
Finally let’s look at image. For some people, a stay at a ‘hostel’ would be unthinkable. Images of 1970s YHAs with cold dorms and rickety beds, and communal cooking and cleaning. Well not any more – many hostels even get business travellers these days. People for whom spending huge sums to stay in characterless, anonymous five star hotel rooms no longer makes sense. At Six Degrees they get free Internet, for starters. And interesting people from all around the world who are always happy to chat.
Overall, then, we ask people to consider finding a good hostel instead of a B&B or cheap hotel (especially if you’re coming to Jakarta!). You’ll save money, you’ll have a much more positive overall experience, and you may even leave with some new friends.
Six Degrees was designed from the very beginning with these principles in mind. Next time you’re in Jakarta, perhaps looking for a B&B, come and see for yourself!